The housekeeping department is the backbone of any accommodation and housekeepers are often the unsung heroes.
Their job is often messy, usually thankless, sometiwmes frustrating and occasionally back-breaking. The tools of their trade are everything to them and can make the difference between job satisfaction and a thankless task.
If housekeepers were indeed superheroes, the house-keeping trolley is their bat-mobile! Okay, most of us would laugh at that analogy but seriously – a housekeeper’s trolley is much more than meets the eye…
The size, shape and mechanisms of the trolley have changed over the years but they still remain an important part of the accommodation housekeeping department. The housekeeping trolley is the silent demonstration of how a business operates. And, consider this – it is one of the most visible pieces of equipment in an accommodation property – guests walk past them every day.
Often the housekeeping trolley, regardless of size, condition or style is in the corridor when guests are going for breakfast or checking out and if a business is operational 24 hours a day, then guests will possibly see more of the trolley than any staff member.
Most accommodation managers would not give much thought to the housekeeping trolley – its uses, benefits and the staff who use them. Chew over this: maybe now is time for the housekeeping trolley to come under the microscope?
Remember, first impressions are everything. An untidy, unclean and out-of-shape trolley will portray an image of how the whole business is managed – sketchily at best. Unsightly house-keeping trolleys are not only unhelpful and possibly unsafe to the housekeeper using them but are also an unsightly mess for your guests.
Trolleys can speak volumes
An adequately stocked, tidy, clean, well-presented and overall sleek and sexy trolley will speak volumes about a business. Visitors and guests will perceive that this reflects the place is being run efficiently, is scrupulously clean and managed with love, care and attention. It also tells housekeeping staff that a slap-dash clean is not acceptable – a sparkling clean trolley is a spotless room and a ship-shape business!
Standardised trolleys give a semblance of order and professionalism throughout a property so perhaps it is time to revolutionise the entire collection. If so, what factors should be considered?
Manoeuvrability is essential, especially along small corridors and into small lifts. Trolleys cannot have a mind of their own. Appearance, safety and productivity are also essential requirements – one size will not fit all.
Productivity is always a worthy discussion; making more money by cutting costs and corners, but this does not tend to lead to a positive outcome for a business. To save money in the long term, have less work compensation, happier staff and fewer injuries, sometimes spending more up front will cut long-term costs.
It is not just careful consideration of the housekeeping trolley that is important, some businesses have an aging workforce and to reflect this are purchasing motorised trolleys. This way they still get the job done efficiently without exhausting their staff.
It is also common practice for large resorts to utilise golf buggies to carry housekeeping equipment between widespread complexes.
Ergonomics and safety
Ergonomically designed housekeeping trolleys, whether they are made of new lightweight materials or motorised, when specifically assessed for particular premises, will significantly lead to a reduction in injury rates and associated medical, insurance, disability and workers’ compensation costs, as well as lost productivity hours.
Dependent upon their staff numbers, some facilities are making a transition to more motorised units while others are becoming more aware of the cart-less housekeeping trolley. This trolley is like a suitcase on wheels – perfect for staff on light duties and for some accommodation establishments.
The ever-changing work environment and occupational health and safety related regulations impact on trolley decision making.
Besides the necessary OH&S regulations, there are other reasons for choosing a suitable housekeeping trolley. Worker safety is always a valid issue but the safety of guests, such as children, is a concern as well. Guests should not have to struggle to manoeuvre their luggage around a trolley in a narrow hallway. Nor should trolleys obstruct emergency exits.
It may also be necessary to secure the supplies, such as shampoos or food items when the cart is left unattended to avoid theft and from children swallowing products that may be adverse to their health.
Housekeeping trolleys should reduce guest inconvenience, blend in, increase employee satisfaction, reduce (hopefully eliminate) nicks and scuffs on the wall and carpet wear and tear, plus they should create a great impression.
There are numerous housekeeping trolleys now available and through continual research, they are improving in their design, manufacture and production. When there is so much to choose from and consider, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Weatherdon is a supplier of housekeeping trolleys to the industry and wants to make trolley buying easier. The company concurs that “clunky and cumbersome is out and nimble and nifty is the order of the day when it comes to housekeeper’s trolleys”.
Robert Weatherdon, managing director of Weatherdon Corporation, preferred supplier to over 600 hotels in Australia and New Zealand said: “As real estate is ever more at a premium, rooms are shrinking and corridors are tighter still. Even in the older style hotels, where space is more generous, housekeepers all seek out the most economic and ergonomic trolley.”
The days of heavy metal trolleys have also gone according to Mr Weatherdon, “Plastic is the new fantastic. Lightweight, manoeuvrable with swivel wheels that steer are amongst the must haves”.
He recommends quick-jump brakes to give emergency stopping power that will make life much easier for even the most petite of housekeepers who may not have the sheer muscle power to stop a full-loaded run-away trolley.
“Safety, security and size are what counts in the accommodation industry and the trolley has to be safe to operate. Safe-ride castors, horizontal protection-wheels and jump-on wheel brakes – as well as ensuring the trolley is never overloaded – this goes a long way to providing peace of mind,” adds Mr Weatherdon.
He advises that “no guest likes to come back to their room and see the trolley propping open the door and their personal bits and bobs in sight – so a trolley that can easily fit inside the room keeps everything private and the corridors clear and safe. Size does always matter especially when appearance and convenience count”.
Mr Weatherdon describes the trolley as the “work-horse that has to ferry everything from linen, toiletries, mops and brooms silently and discreetly and be standing by ready to perform large scale operations at the back of house day or night.
And, he adds: “Reliability is fundamental, so is easy-wipe cleaning. Silence is golden when it comes to wheels, so it is good to have a few spares at the ready”.
Mr Weatherdon’s 10 commandments for what to look for when making a trolley purchase are:
- A fully loaded trolley fits around all the tricky spaces
- Wheels are replaceable – buy some extras to have on hand
- Dirty linen bags have external easy access zips
- Shelves can be easily pulled in and out
- Doors that lock
- Designated mop and broom holder
- Additional storage trays and configurations are available
- Horizontal protector wheels
- Adjustable shelves
- Separate storage nooks
The moral when purchasing a new housekeeping trolley is to consult the experts in the field from the start so that an informed decision can be made to secure a successful purchase.
Buying a trolley that fits the accommodation’s specific needs and requirements, will not only save time and money, but also will also provide a safer, happier and more productive work place. If you buy smart, your sexy new trolley can reflect your business, not only in how it is organised and presented but also with your brand.